Golfers seem to be dressing better ' but golfs new cultural emergence goes much further than the dearth of jokes about loud plaid pants. Now golf is not only cool ' showing up more often in movies, on television and in print ' its good business, too.
Corporations large and small line up to link the brands they have built with golf, often as sponsors of tournaments or players. But golf also pops up in advertising as an activity many types of people can enjoy. It even gets into the plots of prime-time network sitcoms: Remember Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton at the driving range on Everybody Loves Raymond?
Why the corporate migration to the tee? One reason many satisfied sponsors mention again and again is golfs solid moral base. Without being preachy about it, golf encourages self-control, honesty and friendly competition. And the standard of behavior set by golfs top professionals generally gets high marks for effective, low-risk endorsements. That is especially so when compared with other sports, whose stars sometimes regrettably end up being embarrassed in court ' the legal courts, or the court of public opinion, or both.
Beyond that, golf may be the best sport for corporate entertainment, both watching and playing. Even before the worlds No. 1 athlete played golf, companies rewarded their best customers at elaborate entertainment pavilions along the fairways of the games major championships. Almost every regular-season PGA Tour event does this on at least a regional level as well.
Its no accident that golf and Nascar, another sport that has looked after both its image and its sponsorship value, lead the way among growth sports. That combination of good, clean fun, competitive entertainment, and value for sponsors and fans seems to be the modern formula for sustainable sports success.
Is the sky the limit? The challenges of this rapid, information-soaked age conspire against broad popularity for any one activity, say some experts. But as the economy improves, golfs potential looks better and better for corporations that want to tee it up.
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